GOP senator: Ex-CIA chief John Brennan a 'butthead' who doesn't need a security clearance

Sen. John Kennedy defended President Donald Trump's decision to revoke John Brennan's security clearance and...

Posted: Aug 16, 2018 1:43 PM
Updated: Aug 16, 2018 1:43 PM

Sen. John Kennedy defended President Donald Trump's decision to revoke John Brennan's security clearance and called the former CIA director a "butthead" who doesn't need the clearance.

"I think most Americans look at our national intelligence experts as being above politics. Mr. Brennan has demonstrated that that's not the case. He's been totally political. I think I called him a 'butthead' and I meant it. I think he's given the national intelligence community a bad name," the Louisiana Republican told CNN's Manu Raju in an interview Wednesday.

Central Intelligence Agency

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Government organizations - US

Intelligence services

International relations and national security

John Brennan

National security

Political Figures - US

Political organizations

Politics

US federal departments and agencies

US federal government

US government independent agencies

US intelligence agencies

US political parties

US Republican Party

US Congress

US Senate

White House

Donald Trump

Kennedy added, "I don't see why he would need a security clearance, I really don't."

Sen. Richard Shelby on Wednesday similarly downplayed the President's decision and questioned why former high-ranking officials would maintain security clearances once they have left government service.

"When I leave here, I'll be a private citizen. I won't be a US senator. So I don't see anything wrong with that. I don't know why they give them security clearances anyway other than maybe a transition period ... but not in perpetuity," the Alabama Republican told CNN.

In a statement read in the White House briefing room by press secretary Sarah Sanders, the President explained his decision by saying, "Mr. Brennan's lying and recent conduct, characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary, is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation's most closely held secrets."

Brennan is the first former national security official to have his security clearance revoked after the White House announced last month that Trump was considering taking that action against several of his most vocal critics in the national security world.

The former CIA director criticized the news Wednesday on Twitter, calling it "part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech & punish critics," and saying it "should gravely worry all Americans."

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said on Wednesday that while Brennan has been "far too political in his statements ... unless there was a disclosure of classified information of which I'm unaware, I don't see the grounds for revoking his security clearance."

When asked if the action set a bad precedent, Collins said, "I think it's unwise because generally recently retired national security officials have a lot to contribute."

Democratic lawmakers, in contrast, were quick to criticize the President's action.

Virginia's Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the move, "to me, smacks of Nixonian-type practices of trying to silence anyone who is willing to criticize this President."

"There would be nothing this White House would do that would surprise me at this point," Warner said when asked if he believes the administration will go after special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference. "This White House clearly is under siege and will stop at nothing to try to divert people's attention."

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat who's a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, said he believes the revocation is "definitely an abuse of power" and that there's an argument "it violates the First Amendment rights" of the former CIA director.

"It's government taking action through the President against political speech, and political speech is among the most protected speech under First Amendment law," Castro told CNN's Jim Sciutto on CNN's "The Situation Room."

Rep. Don Beyer told Scuitto on "The Situation Room" that he views revoking the security clearance as a "a striking move toward authoritarianism."

The Virginia Democrat said, "This is what dictators do. They shut down the press. They shut down dissent. They jail their opponents or in this case they steal their security clearances."

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Terre Haute
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 96°
Robinson
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 94°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 93°
Rockville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Casey
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 97°
Brazil
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Marshall
Clear
87° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 96°
Hot and humid!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 147865

Reported Deaths: 7026
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook927814630
Lake10007423
DuPage9364475
Kane7877275
Will6957320
Winnebago310996
McHenry212097
St. Clair2037137
Kankakee131165
Rock Island106129
Madison104269
Kendall100021
Champaign96015
Boone61021
DeKalb58220
Peoria56728
Sangamon45532
Jackson34019
Randolph2887
McLean28513
Stephenson2785
Ogle2754
Clinton24217
Macon23622
LaSalle22817
Union19619
Whiteside19615
Coles17817
Grundy1775
Iroquois1645
Tazewell1528
Knox1470
Warren1450
Monroe13713
Cass1367
Williamson1334
Adams1311
Morgan1303
Jefferson10717
Lee1032
McDonough10215
Henry981
Pulaski790
Vermilion792
Marion700
Macoupin583
Perry581
Douglas540
Unassigned530
Livingston522
Montgomery491
Christian474
Jasper477
Jo Daviess471
Ford401
Woodford362
Jersey351
Franklin310
Bureau302
Menard250
Mercer250
Fayette233
Mason230
Wabash230
Alexander220
Carroll212
Washington210
Johnson200
Piatt200
Effingham191
Hancock191
Moultrie190
Shelby191
Crawford180
Logan180
Cumberland170
Bond161
Clark150
Fulton150
Massac150
Wayne141
Schuyler130
De Witt120
Marshall110
Brown100
Edgar100
Greene90
Saline90
Henderson80
White80
Lawrence70
Hamilton60
Richland40
Stark40
Gallatin30
Out of IL30
Pike30
Clay20
Edwards20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 48524

Reported Deaths: 2698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11682684
Lake5180242
Elkhart330146
Allen2798132
St. Joseph196466
Cass16389
Hamilton1563101
Hendricks1410100
Johnson1288118
Porter73237
Tippecanoe7268
Madison65964
Clark65544
Bartholomew58644
LaPorte58026
Howard57757
Kosciusko5494
Vanderburgh5486
Marshall4904
Noble48228
Jackson4723
LaGrange4709
Hancock45035
Boone44543
Delaware44550
Shelby42625
Floyd38144
Morgan32931
Monroe30028
Grant29526
Montgomery29420
Clinton2892
Henry27415
Dubois2736
White26510
Decatur25032
Lawrence24625
Dearborn23823
Vigo2358
Harrison21822
Warrick21829
Unassigned193193
Greene18932
Miami1832
Jennings17611
Putnam1698
DeKalb1624
Scott1627
Daviess14317
Wayne1406
Orange13623
Perry1299
Steuben1292
Franklin1248
Jasper1212
Ripley1177
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette997
Newton9810
Starke933
Whitley925
Gibson812
Huntington812
Randolph794
Wells731
Fulton721
Jefferson722
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey420
Brown391
Spencer381
Blackford372
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton321
Switzerland270
Parke230
Martin220
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110